Liberia’s Chief Justice His Honor Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr. has pledged tosupport a specialized training for journalists assigned at theJudiciary, urging activist lawyer Cllr. TiawonGongloe to take thelead by working with professionals from the Press Union of Liberia orPUL to start the program.
Chief Justice Korkpor made the pledge Wednesday, 7 December when hehonored an invitation from the Association of Judicial Reporters orAJUR, based at the Temple of Justice on a memorial service held in honor of fallen journalist Moses WlemongaiCiaphai who died in Octoberfollowing a period of illness.
AJUR held the program particularly to reflect on the life of the lateMr. Ciaphai, and to identify morally and financially with his only sonMr. Moses Ciapahai, 22, who also graced the occasion.
Chief Justice Korkpor said it would be good for the Judiciary toorganize workshop for journalists covering the Court, and publicallyasked Cllr. Gongloe to take the lead while working with one or twoprofessionals from the PUL.
He said the pen can be mightier than the sword because whatjournalists write can cause trouble, as he urged Judicial Reporters tosay anything they want to say, but asked them to be guided by thetruth.
Chief Justice Korkpor said journalists should be accurate in theirreportage, seek clarification from lawyers and judges on issues thatthey may not understand so that they do not traverse justice.
He confirmed that the Judiciary was making a contribution of L$20,000towards AJUR’s fund raising exercise aimed to help journalistCiaphai’s son.
Chief Justice Korkpor recalled that AJUR’s office came about when hesaw that journalists assigned at the Judiciary had no particular placeto rest while awaiting cases, but were often found sitting around thepremises of the courts. He said it moved him to identify a place atthe Temple of Justice which is now being utilized by Court reporters.
He urged AJUR to go beyond the program held for Wlemongai, saying thejournalists should keep their doors opened for the son of the deceasedwhen he needs help.
Liberia’s former Solicitor General Cllr. TiawonGongloe, who made aninitial contribution of US$50.00, urged AJUR and the rest of theaudience not to forget Rev. Cisco Brown’s message challenging them toleave a legacy.
He admonished journalists to utilize the opportunity they have tocover the court by making every effort to understand legal matterswhile reporting on grounds that the court is a difficult place tocover.
He said journalists should seek understanding from lawyers, because ifthey report very well, lawyers too will be guided by their reportage.
He said the late Wlemongai used to call him for issues he did notunderstand, saying journalists should not presume to know it if theydo not know something.
Judicial Communication Director Mr. Ambrose Nmah said judges andlawyers will not always go on radio, as such, the judicialreporters association needs to be built to provide more efficientcoverage that will benefit the public and the courts as well.
PUL Vice President – elect Mr. Octavin Williams urged AJUR to work ona stronger relationship with the Judiciary, emphasizing thatinternational partners continue to report that the courts were beingused to intimidate journalists. Beyond the memorial service, heexpressed hope that AJUR will design program in memory of Mr. Ciaphai,like in the form of a forum.
Mr. Ciaphai’s former boss Mr. Phillip N. Wesseh of Inquirer thankedAJUR for the program, saying the fallen journalist left a legacy ofaccuracy and clarity in his works.
Other invitees made pledges, including L$2,000 by LISGISPOL presidentE.J. Nathaniel Daygbor; $5,000 by PUL Vice President elect Mr.Williams, among others.
AJUR appreciated the Chief Justice and other invitees that turned outincluding Rev. Brown who offered prayers for the association and thebereaved family.